We are all both good and bad, it is not an either/or position. The more honest we can be in acknowledging our dark side is the first step to claiming our imperfection. Ideally over time we can reduce our pile of internal bad. Think of yourself developmentally — through the age of 27 the dark side may be more than 50%. Then in our 30′s and 40′s we start chipping away at it through self-awareness so the bad gets smaller. (Ask anyone over 40 if they would start over again and the answer is likely to be “No.”) One of the goals in life is the ongoing process of making the bad smaller. Therefore, being able to tolerate bad feelings about yourself is crucial to learning and growth. One exercise to reduce anxiety is to make a list of all the “shoulds” you burden yourself with. This pile of “shoulds” is one of the ways you erase having any room to breathe. Sort out which are the “shoulds” you agree with. Years ago when I carpooled little kids to nursery school I would make a wrong turn on purpose and I was amazed at their anxiety. I would soothe them with how important mistakes are in life, because they seemed so insulated, as many suburban people are, from the notion that mistakes could be good. Our American culture feeds this point of view with the myth of success. Anxiety erupts it’s ugly head when we expect things to be a certain way. All our vacations should be sunny every day & we expect our lives to be stuffed full of happiness and certainty. Other cultures don’t have the same expectations. We can learn a lot from Asian culture, for example. Their idea of life is much more encompassing. Pain and setbacks are expected, not ignored. The reality of the complicatedness of life is more accurate. Happiness is understood to be a byproduct of life choices not an end goal. We could reduce our anxiety if we could pursue this frame of reference. From “Anxiety, Control & Codependency” by Rhoda Mills Sommer, L.C.S.W. http://therapyideas.net/anxiety.htm
If something bad happened
just do this 3 things.
and third accept
that it happened.
Kenneth de Guzman
From the very beginning, the co-dependent adult child believes that the world is a very serious place. Life is seen as difficult and almost always painful. Like all the co-dependent rules… this rule – “It’s not okay to play”- lends itself well to the development of negative thinking and a view of ourselves as unlovable, boring, stupid, ugly, and wrong. Because of this, the co-dependent is always working twice as hard as everyone else just to be okay. Having some project to work on or some crisis to deal with gives us a sense of purpose. In time, we become preoccupied with a smorgasbord of more or less urgent issues – our kids, our job, out friends, our health. And in time, we simply get lost in the shuffle. Take, for example, one of the more classic co-dependent beliefs that what you do is somehow a measure of who you are. One’s identity and sense of self-worth become inextricably linked to one’s job. From this perspective, since play according to the co-dependent workaholic would be a stupid waste of time, the it follows that play would also be viewed as a threat to one’s identity. Another phrasing of the rule might be “Real (serious) people don’t play. From “Lost In The Shuffle” by Robert Subby
We are never more fully alive,
more completely ourselves,
or more deeply engrossed in anything,
than when we are at play.
Take time to celebrate. Celebrate your successes, your growth, and your accomplishments. Celebrate you and who you are. For too long you have been too hard on yourself. Others have spilled their negative energy – their attitudes, beliefs, and pain – on you. It had nothing to do with you! You are a child of God. Beautiful, a delight, a joy. You do not have to try harder, be better, be perfect, or be anything you are not. Celebrate that. When you have a success, when you accomplish something, enjoy it. Pause, reflect, and rejoice. Too long you have listened to admonitions not to feel good about what you have done, lest you travel the downward road to arrogance. To enjoy and celebrate the good does not mean that it will be taken from you. To celebrate is to delight in the gift, to show gratitude. Celebrate your relationships! Celebrate the lessons from the past and the love and warmth that are there today. Enjoy the beauty of others and their connection to you. Celebrate all that is in your life. Celebrate all that is good. Celebrate you! From “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie.
How often we fail to realize our good fortune
in living in a country where happiness
is more than a lack of tragedy.
Sorrow and happiness are reversed reflections of each other. Each one pierces us deeply so the other can be more fully known. Only a man who has been sorrowful can truly appreciate being happy and likewise happiness opens one to know the true depth of sorrow. That is the way life is; always has been; always will be. I used to constantly be waiting for the “good times” to arrive thinking there was a point when life leveled out to be all happy and smooth sailing. Pure delusion! The best life any man has ever had was a great deal of happiness with lots of heartache and tragedy mixed in. In all of time, no man has ever had it better! To wish and hope and dream for more is to chase a mirage.
Often people attempt to live their lives backwards;
they try to have more things, or more money,
in order to do more of what they want,
so they will be happier.
The way it actually works is the reverse.
You must first be who you really are,
then do what you need to do,
in order to have what you want.